Love gets you into the kingdom of God.
Mark 12: 32-34 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”
This teacher of the law had heard Jesus give a good answer to a trick-question regarding the resurrection. He comes with his own question but this isn’t to try to trap Jesus. It is an interesting one because the answer is obvious for a Jew, it is the Shema and everyone knew this. But the man was hoping for something more. Jesus gave it to him by adding a second commandment. Then elevates the 2 commandments to the highest command an individual can do.
What does this mean?
- The vertical relationship is expressed in the horizontal relationship. You cannot separate your worship of God and how you relate to others.
- Nothing is greater than the commands to love. All the other great things we can do in life are secondary.
- Exclusivity is pride that needs to be broken. Whether a person desires to be apart from God or apart from others believing that they can do it ‘my way’ they are intrinsically wrong.
- Whatever you long for, long for it for your neighbour. Whatever you seek then also give. If it is food then long to make sure no one goes hungry. If it is a house then have a heart for the homeless. The list goes on.
- Let love for yourself be first transformed and fulfilled in the One who gives life abundantly and who satisfies the heart, soul and mind. Then from this place love others with the same love that transformed your self-love.
The teacher of the law agreed and said that all of this was more important than the sacrificial worship within the Temple. It was wisdom according to Jesus and he wasn’t far from the kingdom. But he was still outside. He wasn’t far because the One person who could bring him into the kingdom is the One who he is speaking to and who he needs to follow. We don’t know what happens to this man. Does he realise that all the law and prophets hang on these 2 commandments? Does he realise that Jesus came to fulfil the law? Does he come to know there is only one way to the Father through Jesus? If he came to know that and was transformed by the power of God’s love immersing into his self-love then he would be loving others with that same love and he would not be far anymore, he would be in the kingdom of God!